The Rolex Middle Sea Race is once again proving to have magnetic appeal, with 58 yachts from 17 countries so far registered for the 2019 edition. Malta’s rumour mill reports a number of other boats with logistics in place, even if the entry form has not been submitted. With a cut-off date of 27 September 2019, prospective entries have plenty of time to complete the formalities. The 40th running of this 606nm offshore classic, which starts on Saturday, 19 October, looks well set to be marked by its traditional diverse and global fleet.
This year’s race will be marked by a number of recent launches making their debut at the race. Four entries to date will be launched in 2019, ahead of the Rolex Middle Sea Race. 12.7m (42-ft) Alemaro (GER) is to be skippered by Roman Puchtev. Designed by Ceccarelli Yacht Design, the Neo 400+ is a full carbon sandwich construction and a development of the Neo 400, an example of which won IRC 3 at the 2014 Rolex Middle Sea Race. 11.9m (39-ft) Blackfish (BEL) has been entered by Peter Luyckx and is competing in the double-handed division. Built by Bente Yachts, founded by Alexander Vrolijk – the son of Rolf Vrolijk and a naval architect in his own right – this is an ocean-going design taking inspiration from the IMOCA 60 and Class 40. The 10.34m (34-ft) Jeanne (FRA) is a JPK10.30 entered by Laurent Camprubi. Camprubi is an accomplished short-handed sailor and winner of the Rolex Giraglia in 2013. Finally, there is the 9.82m (32-ft) multihull Skymy (pronounced ‘skimmi’), the pre-preg carbon KM32fc catamaran currently in production in Brittany.
While there are always yachts making their debut, there are plenty more that come back more than once. With over a decade of experience on the scenic course, is David Latham’s Seawolf of Southampton (GBR) 11.55m (38-ft) Pronavia 38. “This will be our twelfth Rolex Middle Sea Race,” advises Latham. Latham’s crew reflects the polyglot nature of the fleet with individuals from the UK, Spain, Germany, Mauritius, Ireland and The Netherlands. Over the 11 races, Seawolf has placed well with plenty of podium finishes in class under IRC and ORC. Seventh overall in 2009 is a highlight, while retirement in 2017 (along with the majority of the fleet) was a low. Latham cites a number of reasons for returning so regularly: “The friendliness of the Maltese people and the RMYC in particular. Then there is the diversity of the racecourse. It is like a game of snakes and ladders, and there is always a chance to recover if you make a tactical error.” In terms of favourite moments, Latham is clear there is little to match the spectacular start in Grand Harbour, although the challenges of the Strait of Messina and the majesty of Stromboli come pretty close.